On this tour, mountains, Mozart, and mugs of beer all clink together to create a totally yodel‑y adventure. Starting in Trier, along Germany's scenic Mosel River, your Rick Steves guide will make this region's history and culture come alive in sophisticated Munich, fairy-tale Neuschwanstein, Baroque Salzburg, stately Vienna, relaxing Baden-Baden, the cut-glass Alps of the Swiss Berner Oberland, and beautiful lakeside Hallstatt — with plenty of breathtaking scenery along the way. Join us for the Best of Germany, Austria & Switzerland in 14 Days!
You'll get all this!
- A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
- Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of Germany, Austria and Switzerland come alive for you
- All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 14 group sightseeing events • Trier walking tour • Burg Eltz Castle tour • Baden-Baden Casino tour • Black Forest Open-Air Museum • Trümmelbach Falls visit • Orientation for hiking in the Swiss Alps • Munich walking tour • Neuschwanstein Castle tour • Mountain luge ride (weather permitting) • Salzburg walking tour • Mauthausen concentration camp tour • Vienna Transportation pass • Vienna walking tour • Kunsthistorisches Museum...and more
- All group transportation from Trier, Germany to Vienna, Austria
- 13 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels
- All breakfasts and half your dinners
- All tips for guides and driver
- Free stuff including two guidebooks (Rick Steves' Germany and Rick Steves' Vienna, Salzburg & Tirol), Switzerland Sightseeing Guide, German phrase book, moneybelt and earplugs
- Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
- Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
- Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2013
- 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
- Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
- Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above
Daily Activity Key
- Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
- Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
- Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.
Day 1: Welcome to Germany
We'll meet at 4 p.m. at our hotel in Trier for a "Welcome to Germany" meeting. Then we'll take an evening walk through Deutschland's oldest city, and get acquainted over dinner together. Sleep in Trier (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.
Day 2: Burg Eltz Castle and Trier
We'll begin our day with a walking tour of the historic Roman and medieval core of Trier, marveling at its Porta Nigra gate, the most impressive Roman fortification in Germany. Then we'll drive along the hill-hugging vineyards and villages of the Mosel River Valley, stopping for lunch together in the über-quaint village of Beilstein. Nearby, we'll stretch our legs with a walk and tour of mighty Burg Eltz — Europe's oldest castle still in use as a residence. We'll return to Trier for a free evening to explore more of this pedestrian-friendly town. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 3: Baden-Baden Beckons
Our destination today is the old resort town of Baden-Baden, famous for its mineral baths and games of chance. Upon arrival we'll tour the elaborate casino and take an orientation stroll through the town. You'll have the rest of your day and evening free to "do the spa" (with or without your swimsuit), wander along the shaded riverside promenade, or hike into the surrounding hills. Sleep in Baden-Baden (1 night). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 4: Black Forest and Beyond
We'll start our day with a scenic drive to the Black Forest Open-Air Museum. Here we'll have a local guide walk us through the preserved farmhouses and mills, giving some free time to linger in the past and order up a bratwurst or light German snack. Then we'll drive up into Switzerland's snow-peaked Berner Oberland country. At the end of the deep Lauterbrunnen Valley, we'll take a thrilling gondola lift up to our hotel in cliff-top Mürren, where we'll enjoy amazing views, have dinner together and sleep (3 nights). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 5: Hike in the Swiss Alps
The day is all yours. You may want to join your guide for an optional mountain walk...or ride the gondola lift up to the Schilthorn at 10,000 feet, loiter in the thin air, and hike back down to Mürren...or take a narrow-gauge railway up the other side of the valley to Kleine Scheidegg, near the majestic Eiger and Jungfrau peaks. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).
Day 6: More of the Berner Oberland
This morning we'll witness the roaring, thundering, crashing, splashing display of nature's awesome power in Trümmelbach — a series of subterranean waterfalls that plunge hundreds of feet into darkness behind the valley's cliffs. You'll have the afternoon free to take a brisk mountain walk, or explore more of the Berner Oberland on your own before we regroup for dinner. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: moderate.
Day 7: Scenic Drive into Bavaria
Today's drive is a good time to catch up on your trip journal, listen to music, curl up with a good book, or just sit back and enjoy views of pristine mountains and sparkling lakes. We'll stop for lunch on our way to the heart of Bavaria — home of fairytale castles, well-worn lederhosen, sing-along beer gardens and oompah-hospitality. Tonight we'll enjoy dinner together and sleep in Munich (2 nights). Bus: 7 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 8: All Day to Explore Munich
We'll spend our morning getting a behind-the-scenes look at Munich with a walking tour through its historic Old Town and learn about the "checkered" history and traditions of Bavaria. The rest of the day is yours to stroll around Germany's most livable city, soak up some culture at its world-class museums, or rent a bike to pedal the car-free paths of the English Garden and Isar River. No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 9: Neuschwanstein and the Luge
This morning we'll drive through farming country, then take an uphill hike to tour the fairytale fantasy of "Mad" King Ludwig: Neuschwanstein Castle. We'll hike back down to share a picnic lunch together. Our bus isn't our only ride today — let's barrel down a luge course (weather permitting). Later this afternoon we'll arrive in Salzburg and settle into our quaint hotel. We'll end our day with an orientation walk through the historic center, and share a "Welcome to Austria" dinner together. Sleep in Salzburg (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: strenuous.
Day 10: All Day to Soak-Up Salzburg
Salzburg is a perfect town for a walking tour, and that's how we'll spend our morning: strolling under the wrought-iron signs of the Getreidegasse, going Baroque at the Salzburg Cathedral, and exploring an ancient cemetery. The rest of your day is free for wandering through Salzburg's magnificent gardens, hiking up the fortress hill for a panoramic view, or pedaling a rented bike into the countryside, singing "do, re, mi." Your guide will give you a run-down of local concerts you could sneak away to this evening. No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 11: Austria's Lovely Lake District
This morning we'll make our way to the postcard-pretty village of Hallstatt. It's far too cute for our bus, so we'll carry our bags through town on the way to our inviting lakeside hotel. Enjoy a free afternoon communing with Mother Nature on foot or by boat — or hike up to one of the world's oldest salt mines before enjoying tonight's dinner together at our hotel. Sleep in Hallstatt (1 night). Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 12: Lessons of History
Today we'll drive toward Vienna, stopping en route to tour the thought-provoking Mauthausen Concentration Camp, where we'll learn about the Holocaust and lessons of 1933-1945. Then we'll follow the Danube Valley to the grand finale of our tour — Vienna — once the capital of Europe's wealthiest empire. We'll cap off our day with a neighborhood walking tour, where your guide will discuss your best bets for dinner on your own and a nearby music performance. Sleep in Vienna (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 13: All Day in Classy Vienna
We'll begin our day in elegant Vienna with a walking tour of the city's rich Habsburg heritage including a visit to the art-filled Kunsthistorisches Museum. Your afternoon is free to explore another world-class museum or two, or slow down to enjoy sipping a coffee in the city where Europe's café scene was born. Tonight we'll meet for our last dinner together, where we'll share travel memories and toast new friends. Prost! No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast
It's a breeze to reach Vienna's airport by shuttle, bus or taxi. You'll have easy connections to home, or on to other points in Europe. Auf Wiedersehen!
Itinerary specifics subject to change.
Rick Steves tours are physically active!
This is an integral, essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Best of Germany, Austria & Switzerland in 14 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...
- Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
- Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
- Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
- After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
- Adjust to constant Alpine weather changes that can interfere with sightseeing.
- Handle steep walks and long castle stair climbs at Burg Eltz, Neuschwanstein, and others.
We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.
Sightseeing On Your Own
If you arrive in Trier before your tour begins, use your Rick Steves' Germany guidebook to get oriented, try out a few words of German, and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise (consider renting a bike and pedaling along the river; details in your guidebook or from any tourist office).
Here are some suggestions for sightseeing in Trier that we will not be doing as a group (see your guidebook for details): Archaeological Museum; Mosel boat cruise; Bishop's Museum, Imperial Baths, Amphitheater. Remember, we will tour nearby Burg Eltz Castle as a group.
Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.
There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. We recommend talking to your travel agent about "open jaw" airline tickets (flying into and out of different cities). For links to helpful rail and air websites, go to www.ricksteves.com/plan/links and look under "Transportation."
Frankfurt International Airport (Frankfurt am Main) is the main airport in Germany — 110 miles from Trier. If you fly into Frankfurt am Main, you will then need to take a train from the airport to Trier, a 3-4 hour journey.
Frankfurt Hahn airport is a smaller airport located just 40 miles from Trier, but it is only serviced by low-cost airlines, including Ryan Air and Wizz Air. Ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines. If you are already traveling in Europe before your tour, this may be an economical option for you. It takes an hour to go by bus from this airport to Trier. See www.flibco.com/hahn/morbach.htm for more information.
Read Rick's Guide to Eurail Passes and decide if your travel plans merit a railpass (or contact our Rail Department for advice at email@example.com or 425-771-8303 ext. 214). You can get a rough idea of costs from the above guide or from Rick Steves' Germany guidebook.
Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.
If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See a chart with monthly rain and temperature information for this tour.
While it is important to pack light, there are a few items we'd like you to consider including when packing for this tour. There are great opportunities to hike during our stays in Mürren and the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland (weather permitting). While hiking boots are not necessary, we recommend you bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes with soles offering good traction. In addition, the tour also visits Baden-Baden, an area known for its hot springs, and swimsuits are optional at some of the baths so you may wish to pack a swimsuit and perhaps a lightweight microfiber towel.
For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.
Tour Guide Raves
"TARA is the BOMB! I have never seen someone work so hard, go way above and beyond her regular duties, and always with a smile on her face. She truly made sure the group had a great time. It was evident she loves what she does and excels at it. It was a treat to have Tara as our guide."
— Donica in Cary, IL
"Fabian was outstanding. I so appreciated how lucky we were to have him for our guide. He was a wonderful teacher and helped us understand the history, people and customs wherever we went. He even gave us a test as we traveled to Vienna!"
— Susan in Otis Orchards, WA
Favorite tour memories from recent alums:
"Although we had many memorable moments on our trip — laughing together in the Caracala Spa, screaming like children down the luge run, seeing beautiful castles (ruined and otherwise) and scenery beyond imagination — we loved our hotel in Hallstatt. We had planned our usual 'hike and explore' type of day, but the view from our own balcony was so breath-taking, we just sat there and soaked it in."
— Linda in Westerville, OH
"My favorite 'wow' moment was in Switzerland. The location you picked was the best. It was spectacularly beautiful and I so loved the hiking in that environment that I have no doubt that I will return there for another stay."
— Daniel in La Mesa, CA
"Each part of our tour held a special 'wow' moment. Two favorites were the lake view at Hallstatt and the Swiss Alps."
— Agnes Marie in Fair Oaks, CA
To see more comments on Rick Steves' tours, read through our tour member reviews.
Videos & More
This region is rich in history, art and culture. To help you get the most from your trip, we've put together this collection of travel resources from Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, as well as recommended books, films and music.
Rick Steves' TV Clips & Shows
(For more Rick Steves' TV clips on this region, visit Rick on YouTube.)
- Das Boot (1981)
- Amadeus (1984)
- Wings of Desire (1987)
- Schindler's List (1993)
- Goodbye, Lenin (2003)
Rick Steves' Radio Interviews
(For more radio interviews on this region, see Rick's Audio Europe™ files for iPod, PC & MP3.)
Rick Steves Audio Europe™
- Classical: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Strauss
- Opera: Wagner, Lisa Otto
- Pop/rock: Nena, Tokio Hotel, Falco
Rick Steves' Articles
(For more articles on this region, see Rick's Best Destinations.)
- The Good German — Joseph Kanon
- All Quiet on the Western Front — Erich Maria Remarque
- A Death in Vienna — Frank Tallis
- The Tin Drum — Gunter Grass
- The Book Thief — Markus Zusak